Friday, July 30, 2010

prayer wall

The elements of perfect prayer appeared against a red brick wall as the Via Rail train raced out of central station, Montreal, destination Toronto, Oakville and so on. At cruising speed, shapes and lines appeared, often in high contrast out the window, like frames in an old film projector.

Final destination, a cup of coffee in a lush back yard, among oak trees, deep green lawns, bird song, fresh morning breeze, clear sky. Join the dot of departure with the dot of arrival. Departure began with Lohbado barefoot in a back yard in Montreal, cat fragrance, loose hairs on the pillow, a white moth buzzing among wild flowers, spongy earth, microbes absorbed through pores in the bottom of the feet. A mosquito bites on the ankle. Microbes are necessary for a stable immune system, various bacterial cultures working together to ensure good health.

Go to the station. Order a large coffee. Lineup to board the train, Lohbado lineup of travelers pulling mid-sized suitcases on wheels, extended handles, perfect carry-on size for train travelers. Slow motion of polite travelers, patiently waiting as passengers find seats and stow luggage. No need to stampede.

Station in Toronto, a middle-aged woman in a red blazer nearly knocked me down as the conductor said it was time to go up the cement stairs to the boarding platform. I grabbed the suitcase quickly, afraid to be trampled under the weight of passengers in a hurry to get on the train. No need to stampede. The train follows a schedule and allows plenty of time for passengers to board and get settled. The coach was half empty. So much panic to get on. Coaches were reserved for passengers from various communities.

In my Lohbado brain, certain images made an impression and surface during a night of insomnia, for example, the young woman, doing a kind of yoga as she bent from the waist to rummage around in her backpack. She kept straightening up, squatting down, getting up and then bending from the waist in a kind of yoga dance. Her movements made me aware of pain in my lower back. Keep the vertebrae supple. Oil the rusty hinge so a door could swing silently back and forth, uninhibited movement. In contrast to the vivacious young woman was a young woman next to me in line, dressed in a matronly outfit, as if she was anxious to get old and fit in with the crowd of those who did well and made a lot of money, serious face, as if something happened in her past she would rather forget, or maybe she was anxious about what would happen when she reached final destination. A porous mind during travel readily accepted sense impressions and fluidly formed stories. In the snap of a finger, one could switch into imagination, fantasy and spiritual experience.

The next day, I got up early, made coffee and wandered into the back yard to commune with nature. A  sidewalk near the horizon resembled the line of a freeway, a line of motion, a suburban couple, frozen from the waist up, did a fitness power walk, slightly bent, stiff neck, head not moving to right or to left, through a vision tunnel, blocking out everything into a blur, enabling one to multitask, review plans for the day or whatever.

Jagged dark lines of oak branches, deep furrowed bark, I felt a trapped spirit in the tree trunk, a whimsical middle-aged man, trapped in a dream-like experience, after catching a glimpse of old age and death for the first time. Don't lose your nerve. Don't listen to nagging voices convinced your whole existence is a flop. Gaze upwards, through breaks in the foliage, contrast of shadowed leaves and luminous sky, catch glimpses of cosmic images, flowers, golden-green hills, majestic trees.

The spirit of the oak tree talked about the wood church where Reverend Woodlot Stumps used to perform healing miracles, a wall of crutches, an oak coffin for funerals, a chapel with oak panels and hard wooden benches. Wood grain darkened with age, in a shadowy part of the room, a preacher received confession and spanked boys with a twelve inch wooden ruler, blind justice of a preacher welcoming little children into the peaceable kingdom, or heavenly paradise, where one would find relief from money worry, relationship troubles, and years of drudgery, slave to a low paying job. Carry the cross of affliction, broken with a sense of failure, mental and physical limitations.

Wander as a cloud in the back yard and look at the seagulls and pigeons eating crumbs under God's table. Commune with the almighty spirit of the oak tree. Any tree will do, even the fast-growing poplar. Lohbado grew up with small daily miracles in oak paneled chapels. He crossed cast iron bridges over rapids, picked up rusty nails and locked his jaw in order to not speak the sin that dares not be named.


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